Mainers Spotlight Impact of Affordable Care Act, Signed 12 Years Ago Today
Wednesday, March 23, 2022
Twelve years ago today, then-President Barack Obama signed the Affordable Care Act (ACA) into law, and it has helped provide more than 156,000 Mainers with health coverage.
In the last decade, the national uninsured rate has dropped from more than 30% in 2013 to just under 9% in 2021.
Open enrollment ended in January, but some people may qualify for a special enrollment period if they've had a major life event such as losing other coverage, getting married or having a baby.
Ann Woloson, executive director of Maine Consumers for Affordable Healthcare, noted the American Rescue Plan included funds to help patients afford monthly health-insurance premiums through 2022.
"Even if people have looked in the past, and they thought it was too expensive, now is a good time to look," Woloson urged. "Assuming they qualify for a special enrollment period, to see if they might be able to get a better deal than they did in the past."
Groups are encouraging Congress to pass a measure to continue the subsidies on monthly premiums set to expire at the end of this year. Woloson noted in the last year, there has been a 10% increase in Mainers enrolling in marketplace plans.
Woloson added the ACA not only benefited those who have enrolled in Marketplace plans, but outlined essential health benefits all insurers are required to cover, such as prescription drugs, laboratory tests and access to mental-health services, to name a few.
"Something that we all assume would be covered by our health insurance, but before the ACA, you never knew whether or not the drug you needed or the lab tests you needed or some of the mental- or physical-health services that you needed were actually covered by your plan," Woloson recounted. "More people have coverage and everybody has greater consumer protections as a result of the Affordable Care Act."
Residents can apply for both MaineCare and marketplace insurance plans at CoverME.gov. The website has a tool to help people find what coverage is best for them, and Maine Consumers for Affordable Healthcare has a confidential helpline as well, at 1-800-965-7476.
Uninsured data Nat'l Center for Health Statistics Sep. 2021
House Resolution 1319 (2021) 03/11/2021
Health insurance marketplace U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services 2022
State marketplace Maine Dept. of Health and Human Services 2022
Hotline Maine Consumers for Affordable Healthcare 2022
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